The Practical Mac


- 2002.04.02 - Tip Jar

The Mac has not been known as a premier gaming platform for quite a while. Back when it was the only GUI in town, you could find games galore for the platform. As Windows became more widely used, the bulk of entertainment programming migrated to the Wintel world. However, with OS X that trend is reversing.

Although I do not claim to be a game expert, I certainly know as much as the next guy when it comes to finding different ways to waste time. Here are six of my favorite ways to kill a day on my Mac:

1. MacSolitaire

Windows includes a Solitaire game free. The free game included with Mac OS X is Chess. Someone with training in psychology could probably write an entire essay on the significance of this. Unfortunately, I find that I have a lot more success playing Solitaire than I do Chess.

MacSolitaire is a great Solitaire game. First of all it is free, which never hurts. It has all of the usual preference options. It automatically saves the last state of your game when you exit. Some people call this a feature; others a bug. It all depends on your point of view.

MacSolitaire runs natively on Mac OS X and, since it is a Carbon application, will also run on OS 8.6 and 9.x with the appropriate Carbon Library updates.

2. CocoaMines

The other game you will find on your computer after installing (or reinstalling) Windows is Mine Sweeper. I am not a fan of this game, most likely due to the fact that I can never seem to win. However, my wife loves it. She gives CocoaMines a thumbs up. As its name implies, it was developed with Apple's Cocoa programming language, so it will only run under OS X. And once again, it is free.

3. Civilization III

I have probably spent more hours (wasted more time?) on the Civilization family of games than on any other single computer pursuit. From the original Civilization on the PC to Civilization II (and now III) on my Mac, these are guaranteed addictive.

If strategy games are your forte, Civ3 is waiting for you. For players of previous versions of Civilization, you will find many familiar features in Civ3. A few things have been changed or eliminated, and a few features added. Spend a few minutes on the tutorial, and you will be up to speed in no time.

The first thing you will notice is that the graphics have been improved - tremendously. In fact, the program won't run with anything less than 1024 x 768 resolution. Unfortunately, the box for the Mac version neglects to inform the prospective purchaser of this requirement. Needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed when I tried to run it on my iBook/466.

I installed it on my iMac DV+ and have enjoyed it, but not being able to take it with me on the road (which is the only place I generally have time to devote to such pursuits) without a top-of-the-line PowerBook or new iceBook is a huge disadvantage. The game was developed by the legendary Sid Meier at Firaxis. The Mac version was ported by MacSoft, which always turns out a quality product.

4. Monopoly

The classic board game is even better on your Mac! Currently, Monopoly is only available as a Classic application. However, it runs fine on OS X in Classic mode.

5. MacScrabble

Scrabble is another all-time favorite board game which I can never seem to win. This is also a Classic app, but it runs great on OS X in Classic mode.

6. LimeWire

Leisure time is not only for gaming but also for music. LimeWire is the foremost program for accessing the Gnutella network.

With the demise of Napster, peer-to-peer file sharing quickly came to dominate the Internet. Instead of a master directory of all computers and their available being stored on a central sever ala Napster, Gnutella searches from one host to the next. This is, of course, not nearly as efficient, but it is also not nearly as easy to shut down.

Gnutella shares include much more than just music. Images, programs, even entire TV shows and movies can be found (have fun downloading "Star Trek: Insurrection" on your 28.8 dialup!). Whether you are looking for Steve Millers "Big Ol Jet Airliner" or the latest photos of Britney Spears, Gnutella is the place to find it and LimeWire is the way to search it. LEM

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Steve Watkins is the Vice President for Information Technology for a mid-sized bank, an attorney, and an Army Reserve JAG on extended active duty. He has been a Mac user for about 12 years. He has owned some PCs along the way - but always came back to the Mac. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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